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The Cape Loop

Updated: Feb 9, 2023

At the far southern tip of Baja California Sur, the Cape Loop awaits. With a perfect mix of oceanfront trails, white sand beaches, fishing villages, and mountain tracks, the Cape Loop is one of the best ways to experience Baja, overland style!

Route Overview

Adventure Rating: Epic

Trip Length: 330 miles, 4 - 8 days

Season: Year round, but Fall through Spring typically provides the best weather.

Avg Technical Rating: 2

Peak Technical Rating: 4-5

Typical Terrain: Sandy dirt roads, narrow rocky dirt trails, and some pavement to connect dirt sections.

Recommended Vehicle: 4x4 with all terrain tires.

Adventure Vans: Sprinter 4x4s should be able to manage the section from Santa Anita along the eastern Cape to La Paz. You can certainly try some of the dirt trails on the west side (we recommend the highway), but be prepared to turn around.

Alternative Routes: n/a Passports, Permits & More: You will need a passport and Mexican vehicle insurance to cross the US-Mexico border. Check Bajabound.com for the low down on vehicle travel in Mexico. Gates are becoming more and more of an issue throughout Baja, and it's possible you may encounter a local (or group) manning a gate and demanding permits or payment. Most people are able to pass without issue, but if you're traveling on a weekend, one of the local ejidos or a rancher may closer their gate in hopes of shaking down off road travelers for a few bucks.

 

Route Details

Los Cabos, or "The Capes" represents the furthest south one can travel along the Baja California Peninsula. And while you may conjure up images of Sammy Hagar and drunken tourists in Cabo San Lucas, the southern tip of Baja is rich in beauty and culture. Whether you want to revel in the lively La Paz, explore the artsy Todos Santos, or get lost in old town San Jose del Cabo, Baja Sur is a great place to experience Mexican culture, Baja style!


Many of the dirt sections of this route share the same track as the popular bikepacking route known as the Baja Divide. Be on the lookout for bicyclists as well as motorcycles while on dirt roads.


Our adventure begins and ends in La Paz (DP1), and while the route can be travelled in either direction, the route guide takes a counter-clockwise approach working from the Pacific-side (west coast) to the Sea of Cortez-side (east coast). Take highway 1 south to the quaint village of el Triunfo (DP2), an old silver mining town with cobblestone streets and many buildings in the Spanish Colonial style. The mission style orange and red church stands out from the surrounding mountains and buildings, but is definitely worth a quick visit. Trace your tracks back on highway 1 until the track deviates onto the good stuff-- the dirt! The southern tip of Baja is a mixture of desert and subtropical climate zones, and you'll see these two zones begin to intermingle on this section of the route. Pass through the quaint township of el Rosario, which also happens to be home to the cactus sanctuary. We'll work our way south through the rugged hills and mountains filled with a plethora of creeks and drainages until popping out onto the pavement of Highway 19. Once on Highway 19, follow the track north until it splits to the west on another paved road to the pueblo of Meliton Albanez Dominguez. Shortly after reaching town, the pavement turns to a wide and dusty dirt road. We'll make a beeline to the white sands of Boca el Palmerito (DP4), which is a great place to setup camp. From here, you can drive along the beach or follow the official track on the dirt road above the beach. Just north of Todos Santos sits Tortugueros Las Playitas (DP5), which release sea turtle hatchlings into the ocean from December through April most years. Todos Santos (DP7) and the local mission (DP6) are definitely worth a shop. Todos Santos has a thriving artist community that's evident from its many galleries. From Todos Santos we'll jump back on dirt, and cut east across the Sierra de la Laguna mountains. It's through the rugged mountains you'll see the subtropical climate zones come to life, and if you know where to look you may even find a nice swimming hole or waterfall. Along this leg of the route, Pozos Budistas is your best bet to find a nice soaking pool (the wet season in Baja typically runs from late June through October). Continue following the dirt track through the mountains, which is definitely one of the lesser maintained tracks on this particular adventure. The route pops out north of Santa Anita and Los Cabos Airport, cutting east across the cacti filled desert lowlands until meeting Camino Cabo Este along the Sea of Cortez.


Camino Cabo East (East Cape Road) is a favorite among locals, tourists, and vagabonds a like. The wide dirt road affords some of the best seaside views, numerous fishing towns, and a few tourist outposts along the way. Despite it's popularity, the eastern Cape is filled with spectacular beaches, many of which are free to camp on. And don't forget about the marine life. If you don't mind doling out a few pesos, consider hiring a guide to take you snorkeling at Cabo Pulmo National Park. Just note it's not cheap as you'll be hiring a boat to take you out in addition to renting the gear. If you're on a budget, consider buying your own scuba gear (back in town at Walmart or Costco) and heading to the waters around Playa el Arbolito, which is supposed to be top notch for snorkeling. As you make your way up the coast to La Ribera, the trappings of capitalism come into display as a number of large resorts come into view. But no worries, as you pass through town the luxuries of modern life quickly disappear as you back on the bumpy and dirt washboard roads of Baja. El Cardonal reef is another popular location for snorkeling, filled with a kaleidoscope of colors and Moray eels and parrotfish lurking in the shallows.


From the east cape, the route heads inland to the west. Dirt roads give way to pavement, until we veer off onto a semi-circle into the backcountry filled with ranchos and farms. This portion of the route crosses numerous desert washes. Despite the dirt trails, this section of the route is filled with quite a few homesteads, so you'd be well suited to be on the lookout for cattle and people when you least expect it. The road improves dramatically upon reaching Camino Rancho Isidro (DP13), the main thoroughfare through these parts, but still dirt (thank God!). The route work its way north, eventually jumping back on the highway towards La Paz. But before we head back to the big city, we'll travel to some of the lesser known beaches just north of town. Follow the pavement towards El Coyote, which eventually turns into a wide dirt road. Before we reach El Coyote beach, we'll veer off to the left through a rugged desert wash. The trail pops out just east of the turquoise waters of Playa Pulguero Tepetates (DP14). The nearby Playa Venetia and Playa Levana are both worth exploring. Once you make it to Playa el Tecolote, you've made it back to the tourist trap! The adventure ends at the absolutely stunning Bahia Puerto Balandra (DP15). And while your vehicle may be constrained to a parking lot while visiting Playa Balandra, if you're able to venture out on foot or by sea (kayak, SUP), you can definitely find some respite far away from the crowds who never seem to stray far from the main beach area.


Camping Recommendations

The best places for camping are northeast of Todos Santos along the pacific, the numerous beaches and campsites along Camino Cabo Este, and the beaches to the east of el Tecolote near La Paz. For the interior dirt tracks that cut across the Sierra de la Laguna mountains, ranchos are likely your best bet- and don't be afraid to inquire with locals about camping, you'd be surprise how many will let you camp on their land for a meager fee.


Discovery Points

  • DP1 - La Paz

  • DP2 - El Triunfo

  • DP3 - Sierra de La Laguna Biosphere

  • DP4 - Boca el Palmerito

  • DP5 - Tortugueros Las Playitas

  • DP6 - Mision Santa Rosa de Todos Santos

  • DP7 - Todos Santos

  • DP8 - Camino Cabo Este

  • DP9 - Boca del Salado

  • DP10 - Playa Los Frailes

  • DP11 - Cabo Pulmo National Park

  • DP12 - Playa Palo Blanquito (snorkeling)

  • DP13 - Camino Rancho Isidro

  • DP14 - Playa Pulguero Tepetates

  • DP15 - Bahia Puerto Balandra

 

Maps + Navigation


Gaia GPS Recommended Map Layers

  • Gaia base layer

  • NatGeo Baja

Download Digital Mapping Files




 

Resources


Land Managers

  • n/a

Other Resources

 

Gallery




Terms of Use: Should you decide to travel a route that is published on Overlandtrailguides.com, you do so at your own risk. Always take the appropriate precautions when planning and traveling, including checking the current local weather, permit requirements, trail/road conditions, and land/road closures. While traveling, obey all public and private land use restrictions and rules, and carry the appropriate safety, recovery, and navigational equipment. The information found on this site is simply a planning resource to be used as a point of inspiration in conjunction with your own due-diligence. In spite of the fact that this route, associated GPS track (GPX and maps), and all route guidelines were prepared under diligent research by Overland Trail Guides, the route accuracy and current conditions of roads and trails cannot be guaranteed.



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We have just run most of this loop. If you are going down there this will take you to areas well off the beaten path. We did this in an AEV Jeep But there are sections that the only thing we encountered were atv’s. Grab this gpx would not want to this trip without it. Thank you!!

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